NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — 85 duffel bags, stuffed full of sports equipment, are now in the hands of Niagara County law enforcement.
“There’s basketball’s, footballs and soccer balls with the intention of them using that equipment to engage and build relationships with kids in the community," founder of Victory Sports Global, Doug Rifenburg said.
Rifenburg said he wanted to find a way to bridge the gap, between law enforcement and kids within the community.
"An officer walking up to a group of kids with a football or a basketball in his hands really changes the dynamic of the relationship," Rifenburg said.
Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti said he believes this program will be effective, and he’s excited to see it come to life.
"What better way to connect with kids than to play some sports, play some ball with them,” Filicetti said.
Ten-year-old Elijah Bowden and his three-year-old sister have already gotten to play some basketball with officers, and are excited to keep shooting hoops throughout the summer.
"It was really cool when I was passing the ball to him," Bowden said.
And Filicetti said this program really shows what being an officer is all about.
"It's not just about going out and servicing arrest warrants and arresting people, it’s really about policing with the community," Filicetti said.
With this new partnership, the officers won’t only be playing with the kids but they can also give them any equipment that they need and Victory Sports said they will replace any equipment the officers do end up giving away.